There's already been a ton of digital ink spilled analyzing the upcoming Georgia/Clemson season opener. And that's entirely appropriate. It is certainly the match up with the highest aggregate ranking of teams on opening weekend, pitting #5 against #8. It's an interconference matchup between the ACC and SEC with a smattering of bragging rights on the line. And it's a duel between two high powered offenses from 2012 that return largely intact in 2013. In contrast to this week's national game of disinterest, it is expected to be a closely contested game in which the team with the ball at the end of the game may be the one who wins (though admittedly that didn't work out so well for us in our last bout with a top 10 opponent). So we're in agreement right? This is a big one.
I'm just not in agreement with the prevailing narrative regarding how this one will play out. Last night some guy claiming to write for Dawg Sports appeared on the Team Speed Kills podcast and was asked about how the fledgeling Tiger and Bulldog defenses would handle the firepower on the opposite side of the line. Whoever that guy was, he was completely correct in saying that Georgia's best defense will be a solid rushing offense.
If Georgia is to prevail in this game it will be by running. the. damn. ball.
For starters, especially early, it would be best to take the crowd out of this one. Clemson at night is a raucous place, and for a game like this it should be pretty much unhinged by kickoff. And there's no way to take the home crowd out of it like methodically chewing up most of the first quarter four yards at a time.
Second, keeping the Bulldog offense on the field means keeping the Clemson offense off it. As Dawg Sports Editor Emeritus T. Kyle King astutely pointed out four weeks ago, Clemson is a very different offensive ball club when they don't get to run a bunch of plays. They score less. They don't get in rhythm. All of this is very good for the boys in red and black.
Finally, and as a corollary to the above points, when the Georgia offense is on the field it means the Georgia defense isn't. All of the young guys we'll be playing will need some sideline time which Coach Grantham to digest the looks they're seeing from the Clemson offense. To be reminded of assignments. When I was playing we called it "chair time." Chair time is where you make the adjustments that can't wait until halftime, where you catch your breath. It's invaluable, and the more of it our defense gets in the first half of this game, the better. And the key to providing that is to run. the. ball.
I mentioned earlier this summer that Georgia fans will be surprised when they see how much bigger Keith Marshall is this season than last. Some of it may just be developing, filling out into his natural frame. But lot of it is probably also hard work in the weight room. Marshall was heavily recruited by Clemson, could easily have ended up there, and will almost certianly be pretty amped up for this one. He will see a lot of reps for sure.
But Todd Gurley is still the workhorse of the Bulldog rushing attack. If we're to realize the dream of a commanding edge in time of possession and pull off the victory, Gurley has to produce early and often. He's going to have to break tackles. As we see every season, tackling improves as the year goes on. And if they're missing more than we are, that's a harbinger of good things. Run hard, Todd. Run angry. Run like the revenuers are chasing you.
I usually don't order girly drinks, even if they are colorful and fruity and delicious. But Gurley drinks are a whole different ballgame. You should definitely tailgate with the new and improved Gurley Man. It goes like this:
2 oz. Troy & Sons moonshine
1.5 oz. lime juice
1.5 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. orange juice
As usual, this drink follows our longstanding Dawg Sports policy against scurvy. It's also sweet enough that most will not find it off-putting, but serious drinkers won't feel like they're sipping Kool-Aid. In short, it could also be called "the Mike Bobo" because, well, it's balanced within an inch of its life.
If you're not familiar with Troy & Sons, they're a distillery in western North Carolina with a great story and an excellent product, a corn whiskey that's been crafted from heirloom corn under the watchful eyes of the North Carolina ABC, the FDA, and all those other folks charged with making sure you don't go blind or into convulsions because of a cocktail. It's not as potent as most homemade 'shine, but has a nice smooth flavor. Admittedly, drinking legal moonshine for some may feel like going on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World and calling yourself a swashbuckler. But again, beats the heck out of drinking hooch run through an old radiator. Believe me, it's worth it.
So drink up. And enjoy tonight's UNC/Sakerlina and Ole Miss/ Vandy games, and feel free to use this as your open comment thread for the opening night of college football season. It's finally here folks. This is what we do. Until tonight . . .